I discovered a great podcast interview called "Who Manages Your Career" with Marshall Goldsmith, a leading executive coach. The interview is part of a BusinessWeek podcast series by John Byrne called "Climbing the Ladder" and is available at iTunes.
Key take-aways from the interview:
- No one is going to manage your career except you.
- In the old days, you could show up at a big company at 5 p.m. on a Friday and the place would be deserted. Those days are over. Today, professionals work 60 or 80 hours a week, so if you want to be one (or are one), you better love what you do.
- Don't talk about your career goals in vague generalities ("I want to do something in non-profit"). Go out and get real offers, so you can make real choices.
- Marketing yourself -- managing your own brand -- is a key part of managing your career. You won't learn how to do that in school (even business school). School won't teach you how to sell yourself, how to figure out what you want to do with your life, or how to establish your market identity. You need to figure out what you're good at, what you enjoy, and how that matches up with what the market needs.
That's all great advice, although it can be hard for my audience -- typically in college or recently graduated -- to know what it is they want to do, or even what they're good at. College students are good at school, and that's it. My advice to college students is to treat every summer and part-time job as an opportunity to discover a new industry or professional track and network with all sorts of professionals, because by the time you get out of school, you don't want to stand there scratching your head and run off to law school for lack of any better ideas.